How well do we know ourselves? We all know people who seem acutely self-aware— and those who apparently lack any capacity for self-reflection. But whether we are generally more self-aware or generally more oblivious, we all have blind spots. Areas about us that other people can see, words that other people may use to describe us, aspects of our behavior or personality that are completely unknown to us. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. It’s a terrifying prospect. It can be a really vulnerable exercise to admit that there are elements of us, maybe even ones fundamental to our personality, that other people know and understand without us even being aware of. The good news is there are ways to increase our self-awareness and ultimately shrink, though never completely remove, our blind spots.

One of the most effective models is the Joharai window. The Johari window divides ourselves into four quadrants, into areas that others know about us, that we know about ourselves, and areas where either both or neither of this happen. It can take some brutal reflection, but it’s a great tool for growth. In fact, the method has been used since 1955, when it was developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham.

The areas that is most concerning is the blind area. “Any aspect that you do not know about yourself, but others within the group have become aware of, is in your blind area,” Self Awareness UK explains. “With the help of feedback from others you can become aware of some of your positive and negative traits as perceived by others and overcome some of the personal issues that may be inhibiting your personal or group dynamics within the team.” As you can imagine, this can have a huge, positive impact on your social life, work life, and even general self-esteem.

But another interesting area of the Johari window is exploring the part of ourselves that we know exists, but we choose to hide from other people. “There are also aspects about yourself that you are aware of but might not want others to know, this quadrant is known as your hidden area,” and what you choose not to disclose can be incredibly telling. Often, we’re not even honest about— or aware of— what we’re hiding from other people, so forcing us to consider that can be incredibly enlightening.

If you’re willing to work on it, this model can help you reap huge benefits. “Johari is a very elegant and potent model, and as with other powerful ideas, simply helping people to understand is the most effective way to optimise the value to people,” Self Awareness UK explains. “When people really understand it in their own terms, it empowers them to use the thinking in their own way, and to incorporate the underlying principles into their future thinking and behaviour.”

If you want to learn more about how you can use the Johari window to grow your self awareness and help you communicate more efficiently, there are lots of ways to do this. But you’ve got to be willing to be honest about yourself, how you communicate, and what others may think about you, even if it’s painful. That’s where the growth comes from, after all.